Fredericton playwright questions the individual vs. culture in adaptation of Maritime classic

A Fredericton-based playwright is bringing his adaptation of a Maritime classic to Theatre New Brunswick.

Based on a short story by Alistair MacLeod, The Boat is a play about a boy growing up in a traditional Cape Breton fishing family.

Inspired by his father's collection of books, he wonders whether he should venture out to discover the world, or stay home to continue the family tradition.

It's a story that will appeal to a Maritime audience, said playwright Ryan Griffith.

But it's also universal in its examination of the individual versus the culture they were born into, and whether they can ever truly escape their culture, he said.

"I would like [the audience] to just consider how culture works in terms of helping us find our identity, and helping us find ourselves, and what are the limits of culture," he said.

"Where does it have power over us and where does it cease to have power over us?"

Maritime story

Griffith, 39, said he started working on the play in his first year at National Theatre School in Montreal as part of an adaptation project. He graduated from the school in 2007.

He said he always respected the story but he also liked it because it reminded him of home.

"I was away from home in Montreal and this was just a story that happened in the Maritimes," he said.

"And it just made me feel good working on a story from the Maritimes."

The Boat opened at the Open Space Theatre in Fredericton this week and will run until March 18.

Griffith said he was pleased to bring The Boat to his home province and said the staff and production team are doing a phenomenal job.

"I couldn't be happier than seeing the production this script has been given," he said.